Why a Seeker needs a Guru

Why a Seeker needs a Guru

Understanding the Role and Importance of a True Guru - By Anandmurti Gurumaa

Reading time: 3 minutes

The one who dispels darkness – this is the literal meaning of the Sanskrit word Guru. This darkness is the darkness of ignorance, of not knowing. Not-knowing what? The fundamental reality that underpins everything in this world.

Ignorance can be eradicated only through knowledge. There are two kinds of knowledge: one pertains to this material world and the other refers to the transcendent truth of our existence.

Material knowledge is readily obtained from a variety of sources. A child learns about this world from his parents and teachers. As one grows, one learns more and more about this physical world from a variety of sources including books. Often regarded as a man’s best friend, books are a microscopic and telescopic gateway to knowing almost anything about the physical world.

Gaining worldly knowledge is not difficult at all especially in these modern times with its rapidly evolving technology available at our fingertips. But things are not quite the same when it comes to the metaphysical realm.

All the sophisticated gadgetry (including cutting-edge imaging techniques) notwithstanding, scientists and biologists are flummoxed in their understanding of the human mind let alone consciousness. The biggest flaw in their investigation is that they are trying to analyse that which is not an object of experience but rather, the subject that experiences objects.

Answers to metaphysical questions like: ‘Who am I? Who is God? What is the nature of this world?’ cannot be speculative or hypothetical. And this is where the importance of a Guru comes in.

Herein I would like to clarify that the word Guru is used rather loosely in modern parlance. E.g. yoga teachers and narrators of religious texts are also called Gurus.  They are teachers but not Gurus in the real meaning of the word.

A Guru is someone who has eradicated ignorance about the reality of this universe. Such a person has some distinguishing attributes.

The foremost is that the person is enlightened i.e. has awakened to the higher truth of our existence. And note that this realisation comes as a direct, empirical, first-person experience with no room left for any doubts whatsoever.

The second characteristic is that the person has a thorough knowledge and understanding of the ancient scriptures like the Upanishads.

A Guru is an enlightened, self-realised master. Completely devoid of selfish desires, and brimming with wisdom, compassion and love, such a liberated person helps fellow human beings attain the same freedom, joy and fulfilment that he experiences.

Now, you may ask: How do we know that a person claiming to be a spiritual Guru has these characteristics? How does one know he is a real Guru and not a bamboozler?

Broadly speaking, if you are a real seeker with dispassion and discriminative wisdom, then you will find your way to a genuine Guru.

In the presence of a real Guru, the mind calms down. When just by being in a person’s presence, when by just looking at his or her face, the restless mind starts settling down, starts experiencing an inexplicable joy and peace, know that you are in a hallowed presence.

But terms and conditions apply! Before using this yardstick as a tester, you need to ensure that you are working on cleansing your mind’s impurities.  A mind full of anger, craving, jealousy, hatred, lust, or avarice is ineligible for such an experience.

The one who has walked a path successfully, alone can guide you effectively. The Guru defines the spiritual goalpost and delineates the journey clearly. He explains how to navigate the path, what obstacles to expect and how to surmount them.

Now, some may ask: Can we not get this transcendental knowledge from books? Can we not read books written by enlightened masters and act accordingly? What is the need for a living Guru?

Well, there is. Remember the story of the blind men and the elephant? Each man touched the same animal and his conclusion was based only on the part he could perceive.  They were all partly right but entirely wrong.

The path of awakening is the most challenging journey a human being can ever undertake. The dissipated, egotistic and tempestuous mind with its pre-existent misconceptions and delusions is not at all qualified for such a higher pursuit.

You have to start with a clean slate. The mind has to be prepared in the right way. Moreover, every individual has his or her tendencies and proclivities. And the Guru is best placed to advise practices suited to your temperament and eligibility.

Books written by great masters are undoubtedly a treasure. But dead masters can’t correct your errors, they can’t give pointers tailored to your particular mind and intellect. Moreover, the nuanced words cannot be deciphered by an unrefined, egotistic intellect. Thus there is a real danger of misinterpretation and further aggrandization of the ego.

A real seeker simply cannot do without a real Guru. All that is needed is to surrender to the master wholeheartedly and receive the bountiful grace and guidance. Where will you find such a Guru? Well, it is said that when a disciple is ready, the Guru appears.

For more such articles or more information about the author and her work, please visit www.gurumaa.com


Anandmurti Gurumaa

An awakened being and a contemporary spiritual master, Anandmurti Gurumaa continues to guide thousands of people worldwide on the path of yoga.

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