Guru simply means teacher. The word has gathered baggage in our culture. We’ve all heard stories of teachers who have, to our perception, taken advantage of their followers; cults providing the leader with expensive cars and harems of devotees. Often these seemingly duped followers are made up of the college-educated middle class, with whom we may identify, making these stories more intriguing, mysterious, and perplexing.
Our culture has given us very little meaningful instruction in that most basic of understandings – what is life all about? There are a lot of very unhappy people. When someone comes along who appears to have the answers, it can be very seductive. There are many insights into the human condition in other cultures that may have been overlooked or forgotten by our contemporary society. A charismatic individual, with an admiring group expressing feelings of improvement, can fuel a dynamic.
In the final analysis, if these are capable adults, shouldn’t they be allowed to make their own choses? The question arises though, with materialism and wanton sexuality experientially such a damper on spirituality, what allure do they provide for a supposed spiritual teacher?
Historically acolytes would spend years learning in the presence of the guru. Teaching was passed down orally and conduct taught through example. Buddha’s immediate followers grouped around him from his enlightenment to his death over forty years later. Normally the apprentice shadowed their mentor until they were kicked out of the nest or their guru died.
With the rebirth in the West of interest in spiritual introspection and efforts toward self-realization, the tendency was to copy the guru/disciple model. With the emerging popularity of yoga it seemed everyone was running around looking for a teacher. Some searchers were able to hookup with a guru and become long-term followers. Most seekers would try a teacher or school, feel disillusioned or a need for more, and move on. A form of sampling developed. Taking what one school would offer, but rather than becoming a lifelong devotee, moving on to another discipline. This is a reflection of our modern world with many sources of information, ideas and concepts coalescing from a wide variety of sources, a synergism. The spiritual transformation going on now is occurring very rapidly. Many old souls need only be reminded of learning that took place in past lives. With the world population so great – how close can we be to having everyone who ever lived incarnate at the same time?
A great shift in consciousness is taking place. We’re just passing a crucial point in human history; a balance so decisive as to decide whether mankind continues or topples. Equilibrium is to be restored through the personal efforts of many individual souls.
As an individual, be with the guru within. Listen to your inner understanding as part of the wisdom directing all creation. Hear the voice of that understanding expressed all around you. When attending a yoga class, don’t hold on to the ways you have performed in the past. Give yourself up to the teacher. You already know what you know. Through trust, dare to be fully alive and try other ways. Listen. Listen to the teacher and the world around you – the words of a child, lyrics of a song, the wind rustling the leaves. The Divine is in everything. Living now in each moment, pay attention to all and learn. This is part of awareness. Be aware.
“Be one with the guru, both inner and outer,” and understand one of many attempts to describe the indescribable – Samadhi.