The idea of a guru has been a constant in my life to as far back as I can remember. But as it is with most material desires, I hope I have come to a final understanding of what a guru really is. I have touched upon this a bit in one of my previous posts – Kill The Buddha.
Since as far back as I can remember, I have been searching for a spiritual mentor who can guide me on my spiritual path. This expectation, right here, was the key source of all my disappointments. First, because I held an expectation, and second because another person cannot really ever guide you to a place that you already have within.
The power of our devotion to teachers and teachings is not a reflection of their value, but of ego’s will to survive. It’s ego—the false self—that exalts the guru and declares the teaching sacred, but nothing is exalted or sacred, only true or not true.Jed McKenna
I have come to these realisations today after experiencing these disillusions, not once, but twice. Had it not been for these two experiences in my life with the teachers that I sought out, I do not believe that this understanding would have come to me. So, in a way I feel grateful even for those experiences, no matter how they turned out to be.
I recollect the time when I met a 110-year-old ascetic living a solitary life, a decade or so back. He had said to me, “the guru you are looking for is right where you are, you do not need to go anywhere else”.
Having experienced my fair share of chasing after a spiritual mentor, learning my lessons, dealing with isolation and judgement, questioning every single thought and belief on my own, and finally coming to a place of understanding, I have come to realise what that ascetic meant. The guru that I was searching for was within me, I truly did not have to go anywhere else. Looking within, I have found my golden compass, which I am still learning to use. This has been the single biggest breakthrough on my spiritual journey.
Seeking a teacher is just ego seeking a reprieve; a stay of execution. Giving oneself over to a teacher or a teaching or the Beloved Guru or whatever is all about staying asleep, not waking up. The first rule in this business is that you are on your own.Jed McKenna
Some things I learnt the hard way and I feel that even the arrival and departure of these individuals have contributed to my acceptance of what a guru should and should not be. Since everything happens as it is supposed to happen, these experiences became the foundation of the understanding I stand upon today.
When on a spiritual path, question everything, question even the question that comes up. This very process should also be applied to any teacher, mentor, or guru. A spiritual mentor, comfortable in their own skin, would never discourage this, in fact, they will chide you for believing their very words. The purpose of going within is to drop all assumptions and look at everything with a childlike wonder and awe. When trying to reach the source, don’t follow anyone else’s path, carve your own.
Allow yourself the freedom to explore various spiritual traditions, read books from the enlightened ones who have crossed this path before you, see what sticks and what doesn’t, but eventually, do what feels right to your soul. My biggest anxiety and frustrations came from the fact that while under these tutelages, I could not question anything that was being told to me, paths that I wanted to explore were expressly denied, and total surrender was demanded of me. This caused pain and heartbreak at a level that no words can sufficiently describe.
Any person, be it a guru, who demands total surrender is still acting from the ego. This is a very important lesson that I have learnt. No one’s path is the same, and to say that only one path can lead to the Supreme, should be shunned as soon as possible. There is one source, but there are as many paths as there are beings on this earth. Find your natural rhythm to reach the source of your soul. If it doesn’t ‘feel’ right, then it definitely isn’t right. Don’t drown the voice within, because repeatedly doing so will only increase your anxiety and make you dependent on another person.
The goal should be freedom from attachments and not creating new ways to get entangled in Maya. Today I feel blessed to have found my rhythm and I hope that anyone reading this, in a similar situation, finds the courage to follow their heart’s call. There is bliss in that, you just need to reach out for it and claim it, even if the separation might feel painful. Trust your inner wisdom and follow its light.