I am writing about gurus today because next week is Guru Purnima, the first full moon night after the summer solstice dedicated to spiritual teachers. I will be having a special celebration this coming Tuesday at 7:30pm/Life Studio. All are welcome.
It's hard to imagine a sentence more indicative of a California New Age mindset than, "I have a guru." But if you can get over the hippieness of the word, if you're actively on a spiritual path (or evolutionary path if you don't like the word "spiritual"), if you define yourself as a seeker, then a finding a guru is imperative.
What is a guru?
A guru does not have to have a long beard, wear beads and sit in perfect lotus position (though my guru does all three). "Guru" simply means spiritual teacher. In Sanskrit, it translates to dispeller of darkness or ignorance. For thousands of years, those seeking to fully realize themselves would do so through the combination of sadhana, spiritual practice like meditation, yoga, etc. and sitting at the feet of someone further down the path than themselves. The first is what purifies the physiology in order for deeper states of consciousness to be experienced and sustained, the second corrects the intellect. Or in other words, the teacher helps guide you along the way so you progress much more quickly.
A symbiotic relationship
There are many wonderful books and essays by famous gurus of today and the past (if you're interested, dm me and I'll send you some recommendations). However, the guru relationship is experienced in person. There must be some kind of interaction, it is a symbiotic relationship. The student asks a question which then inspires the teacher, which then provokes more inquiry in the student.
What to look for in a guru
Gurus can come from any walk of life. They can be priests, rabbis, yogis, professors. However, while a guru can be anyone, not just anyone makes a good guru. For example, there has been a bit of an explosion in the field of coaching populated by individuals of varying qualifications. Some are incredibly good with valuable knowledge and some who woke up one day and thought "life coach" would be fun occupation. What you're looking for in a guru is someone with a high state of consciousness or awareness. Are they joyful and quick to laugh? There is an inverse correlation to level of stress and level of enlightenment. Nobody wants a stressed-out guru. Do they seem unattached to outcomes? Do they teach by precept? In other words, do they live what they teach? Have they dedicated themselves to their own evolution and the evolution of their students? Are they relatable? A lot of people try to pose as highly enlightened and come across inauthentic and overly concerned with image. Is their goal for you to be independent or dependent? Some people try and make their students forever dependent, usually to support their own ego or pocketbook. Are they humble? A true guru has very little to no ego and knows that whatever they teach is merely coming through them. They are not the originator or owner of the knowledge they impart. And lastly, does this person resonate with you? All spiritual teachers are essentially teaching the same truth, but one will teach in a way that switches things on in you.
Gurus are human
It's important to remember that your guru is a real human being. I mention this because often, some people will hold their guru to a perfect, impossible standard and when the guru falls short, maybe it's discovered they drive a gas powered vehicle or aren't a strict vegan, the student feels bewildered and betrayed. It is less about what the guru does, and more about how they do it. And even the most enlightened gurus have something called "Lesha Avidya" or "the faint remains of ignorance." It's the harmless but human behavior that makes them relatable.
The inner guru
All true gurus are like parents. They guide you until the day comes when you can guide yourself. We all have an inner guru, or inner voice, that guides us exactly where we need to go. With the help of your chosen guru, your inner voice will become louder and more prominent until no more outer guidance is necessary.
My guru and the long line of gurus that came before