Saturday, February 19, 2011

Your view on the guru

What is a guru?
T. Krishnamacharya: Teacher of BKS Iyengar and
Sri K. Patabbhi Jois Parmhansa Yogananda, founder of the Self Realization Fellowship

Amma, a living modern day saint and guru

I recently posed this question to some friends:
. What does "guru" mean? How does one become a guru? Do you have a guru? Is the concept of the guru confusing or clear to you? When you think of the word guru, who do you think of right away? Would a guru ever call themselves a guru? Do they have to know they are a guru to be one?

I received some wonderfully thoughtful and insightful answers. And an interesting thing happened as this conversation developed. I realized I have had many gurus in my life. The people who have represented the guru to me have come into my life most perfectly showing me things about myself that I was ready to see. I got permission from my friends to share their answers. Here they are:

In the Patanjali Yoga sutras it says there is One Guru for all time. It, according to the Shiva Sutras, is the grace bestowing power of God, the aspect of Spirit that brings us home. It literally means the "remover of Darkness"
The highest Gurus act as a channel for this divine wisdom and light. Life itself reaches out to us as Guru if we invite Spirit to help us grow and expand and can here the voice of every event and circumstance.I've found that, despite teaming up with the universal power, that all Gurus have some personality of their own which often has what others consider flaws. That's the nature of this dense reality, so don't expect absolute conceptual perfection in anyone, even if somebody does an amazing job of themselves."

-Karl Baba

"A Guru, in generally is a person with extensive knowledge, skill, and ability; based on experience, or occupation for a particular area of study, or research.
To answer your question would a guru call themselves a “guru”:
we’d picture them to be humble and selfless. this just may not be the case. Heck I’ve been dubbed on occasion as “GURU”. Honestly; to pass the title so easily, a complete A__Hole could qualify as “GURU”. To be knowledgeable and humble is enlightenment."
-Aaron Dunson

"A few people come to mind when I think of this term. One is my therapist, who I rely on for more than helping me sort my thought & feelings. She also helps with meditation, yoga, Ayurveda hook ups, as well as spiritual balance and perspective. Other one is a teacher and friend who is yogi, she has spent her life traveling, learning and practicing all aspects of yoga. She is knowledgeable in Ayurveda and has been influential in helping bring me back to center when I'm wandering. She keeps me educated and up to date on events to encourage my practice and well being. Among so many other things they are both very similar yet extremely different. Over the last few years anytime someone directs me along the path I seemingly should be following so steadily I'm almost delivered that opportunity directly. My therapist & I spoke of Ayurveda therapy and practicing yoga and meditation more regularly and a few days later I met Adelfa a Yogi & Ayurvedic practitioner, the one I'm traveling to India with. It seems I'm attracting people to aid in the path have been searching for. Or I'm finally in the right place mentally that I can see what I may have been missing all along. ♥ "
-Carly Dodge

"This question is truly close to my heart as I have been exploring this so much lately. I have found that for me, guru is a teacher. God is everything, so God is also guru. The guru teaches you to open your heart to God by first opening your heart to guru. One must cleanse their soul before they can ascend. The purest way to this, is through the heart. A guru is a teacher, but how do you teach someone to open their heart? Unconditional love flowing to the student as well as experiences with the divine. Amma has been instrumental in showing me the difference between divine love and human love. One is conditional. The other is not in any way, and that can be felt fully. We always have love for each other, but it seems to serve some purpose for us. Even our love for ourselves...We don't love the bad. W love the good. With Amma I feel none of that. I have had my moments of "What the hay is going on?", but never have I been able to walk away from her. She is my teacher, and that is mostly felt on the subtle level for me. Being in her presence is powerful, but I feel my strongest connection in the realm of spirit. "

-Kristy Brown

Wikipedia defines Guru (Sanskrit) as "One who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others....Finding a true guru is often held to be a prerequisite for attaining self-realization"

In Richard Freeman's
The Yoga Matrix
the guru is described as "The remover of darkness...the darkness of ignorance". Richard tells us that the word guru itself means heavy; defining that heaviness as ".. not moved by the changing phenomenon of the world". As students we
"..initially orbit[s] around the guru attracted by the immense gravitational field of the teacher". Based on that description, I totally get it! Yes, I have found a teacher, a guru, and can count many people in my life as having been gurus who somehow drew me in with what level of truth they were fully in touch with as individuals.

The ego driven world is constantly telling us who we are and what we should be. And it is our sense of ego itself that identifies with and defines those expectations and projections. As people of the world on a whole, we may just be going around showing each other images of unrealistic expectations of ourselves. We identify with images of that which is not who we really are. It causes us to suffer greatly; taking these images of what we think we should be, trying to become things that cannot last. Things like younger, richer...and on a sub-conscious level: immortal. We cannot "be" any of these things as individuals. And what we strive for egoically we state that we "are" rich, young, etc. But what we really "are" cannot be reduced to to egoic desires. We plug along chasing an illusory carrot. As the very nature of ego is to love illusion, we may purposefully not grab the carrot out of fear that we will learn the truth of it, that it is not real. Or maybe we think the carrot is not really for us anyway, so we curse it because we cannot have it. Either way chasing or running from that carrot is the same as running to and from our gurus at the same time. That is precisely how I stumbled upon yoga. It is exactly why my life in inexplicably what it is. That is what the guru, or teacher, is for.

Gurus show us a clear reflection of what we think we should see without egoic fear of the consequences of discovering that the carrot has been unreal all along. Gurus hold up mirrors for us, not images painted by ego, without telling us what to see or what we look like. This is how we glimpse and eventually see who we really are, which is to say nothing that can really be spoken or written about because what we experience in those reflections is Pure Consciousness. A wordless, thoughtless image-less expression.

We all have a concept of what the Guru is. And therein lies the imperfection and very nature of concepts. Is a guru a perfect being? How can they be? In reversal of the famous proverb: to be human is to err. Divinity lies in non-judgment of all things earthly existent. The guru is not perfect, but has had to learn to see what is real beneath the illusion. And how else would we at first relate to a guru other than recognition of humanness? The idea of guru is a creation of the mind, of ego, yet without conceptualization what would we have to ground ourselves into as we seek the center of Pure Consciousness from which it all came? We must conceptualize the guru so we can find the guru. As for me, I have discovered someone who holds hold that mirror. I am very grateful for the conceptualization of what can actually have no concept. And in case you haven't noticed: irony doesn't affect me much. That is what I have been learning from my teacher, a small yet growing sense of that weighted heaviness. A feeling of being grounded into earthly reality yet completely connected with the ethereal. And so I think it is student who defines guru. Because through recognition of one's own sense of divinity, we are able to recognize what inspires divine opening, insight and eventually awakening.

Who is your guru? Do you have one? Does the concept of guru resonate with you? What else? The Yoga Teacher Blogspot wants to know. Thanks for reading!


more on the definition of:

Wikipedia description guru