Do you wonder where to start, where to look to find a guru? You’ll find there are all kinds and types of gurus; often “guru” indicates a title for a teacher or a guide in most any subject, such as music, dance, art and sculpture, but especially religion and spirituality. We may find gurus’ range from musicians and storytellers to those whose message is transmitted without ever speaking a word. But what they all have in common is the ability and appointed authority to unveil some truth. For all too many, that authority is self-appointed, but for others it is a result of a long lineage or it is divinely appointed, the latter two helping the ego/mind (self w/small “s”) merge with the divinity within. You may call this divinity within, the Soul, Self, Jiva, Atman or whatever, but nonetheless it is immortal. There was never a time that it didn’t exist. There will never be a time that it will not be. The ego/mind is not immortal and never will be. It ceases to be at the moment of death, and according to yoga philosophy there’s an essence of what this egoic self has learned and accumulated in regard to spiritual value that continues into the next life, even if that life doesn’t find embodiment for hundreds or even a thousand years.
Yet this ego/self can become immortal if it so chooses. Naturally, this choice involves a clear decision, commitment, discipline, and Divine Grace, which often manifests in the form of a guru. Once the decision is made, a succession of teachers generally begins to appear; helping, teaching and guiding the aspirant or student. The ongoing quality that matters most is sincerity. We can make mistakes, wander from the path, and make short-term and careless choices, but if this is all done within a consistent framework of sincerity, then we’ll continue to get the guidance we need. In the process of preparing the ego/self to merge with the Divine within, negative qualities are stripped away, but only at the rate the aspirant can tolerate. Our rescue, within the bounds of our karma, is commonly afforded to us as we struggle, and eventually, we will meet our true guru.
Once we start looking we’ll see all sorts of self-appointed individuals hanging out their “guru shingle”. Sadly, they are mostly “wanna-be’s,” who “think they are” or “wish they were” – would-be spiritual leaders who have made a decision that this is their calling, perhaps in spite of their immaturity. Some of them are sincere, but many more are not. A true guru is never self-appointed. They are selected and trained by those who are already established as true gurus and sadgurus or else they’re genuine celestial enlightened ones (Avatars) who appear here from time to time. In reality, there are very few true gurus.
A true guru is endowed with spiritual gifts to give, and they give them (sometimes lavishly), to students, disciples, spiritual aspirants and on occasion to complete strangers. A true guru genuinely knows the appropriateness of the gift and can “see” how it will be applied. Although only a sadguru has this ability to know all possible outcomes, true gurus may not. Even still, a clear direction is apparent to the true guru which points strongly to how the gift will be employed. This is how the appropriateness of the gift is determined. All the while, the gift increases the ability of the ego/self to eventually merge with the Soul or Self and that is the determining objective.
All spiritual teachers, even ones who have reached the state of an advanced adept, are not automatically gurus, unless and until some divinely oriented appointment for the function arrives. As is the case for many advanced adepts, this appointment to become a true guru may never arrive.
The Grace of The Supreme flows through each true guru in wonderful and different ways; they’ve been embraced by Love and realize with every facet of their being that Love is both the method and the destination. It is the means and the end. There is no way to achieve a state of Love other than by loving. For the Divine or Truth speaks directly to the heart; the mind cannot apprehend Truth or the Self in its entirety, as a matter of fact, it can’t come close. It would be like trying to put the ocean in a teacup. It is easy to see how you can pour the contents of a teacup into the ocean and it becomes one with the ocean. But it’s a bit harder to dissolve the mind in the heart.
It seems astounding that some of the Avatars of the East (Shankaracharya, Vyasa, Buddha) and others do not agree on the finer points of what establishes Truth, or Reality, or the nature of the Self, and so on. They all see the same light, but don’t have the capacity to see it all at once so they each expound on it somewhat differently. Dattatreya, when asked to comment on the differences between Dvaita (dualism) and Advaita (Non-dualism), between Saguna (Realization with form) or Nirguna (Realization without form), looked kindly at the questioner and said, “If you are still concerned with such things, you still have a ways to go.”
Both teachers and gurus will agree that Love will take you all the way to the utmost goal of human existence, but true gurus are blessed with a unique set of skills and tools to help the finite part of us merge with the infinite part of us; dissolving our identification with the ego/self, moving us as expeditiously as possible into that state of being where we realize unity because we have attained it.
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