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A World of Yoga
The Importance of the Guru
Certainly western mysticism is a tradition of the transfer of higher consciousness from those who have it into the lives of worthy brothers and sisters — those who have prepared their character and those who will not abuse greater power. Most all schools of thought which speak of awakening have a tradition of transferring consciousness.
Certainly, many eastern religions and yoga emphasize the great importance of the aspirant becoming prepared for the great meeting with the Guru who will convey the spirit of enlightenment to a truly worthy and able candidate. The word Guru comes from Sanskrit and its root words are gu, meaning darkness, and ru, dispeller. A Guru is an awakened man or woman who has personally, through the help and invaluable transfer of consciousness from a Guru before, become able to transmit higher consciousness to the aspirant. An aspirant who is accepted by a Guru and who is considered to be worthy to be initiated is called a chela, meaning devotee, or a sisya, meaning disciple, one who accepts the discipline of the Guru.
The Guru function is mainly a spiritual one. A true Guru never claims to own or originate the spirit of higher consciousness which he conveys. He considers himself only an "instrument" of love and light. As his life has been immeasurably helped and uplifted by the Lord of his heart, he willingly conveys higher consciousness and awareness of the Lord to a worthy initiate.
While strange and bizarre events today are confusing the great beauty of this Guru/Chela relationship, and while sensational individuals who call themselves Gurus and Masters live in a hype similar to the Beatles’ invasion of America, the tradition, nevertheless, goes on. A few Gurus are still in the world today. There are so few, perhaps, because of a lack of interest. Many people are not desirous of improving their character. They don’t want to look at their problems, let alone correct them. But without becoming a worthy aspirant and truly being eager to overcome ego and other personal flaws, one cannot abide in the higher consciousness, and so one is not capable of becoming a Guru. Consequently, there are not many Gurus in the world today — that is, defining the Guru as one who has experienced higher consciousness himself, abides in it, and is willing and able to extend that awakening to qualified aspirants.
A Guru in a Modern World
Moreover, there are problems in the tradition of Master and Initiate today. Some great Gurus, nearing the end of their lives, have become infirm or senile and are no longer capable of functioning as transferrers of higher consciousness. This circumstance is contrary to ancient writings but it happens today. In a chaotic world "smogged" by drugs, greed, violence, and self-gratification, these super-sensitive souls have more difficulty maintaining their health. Gurus, who of necessity take on the sins or karmas of their chelas, have great burdens to bear in these most difficult of times, and the self-indulgent culture often wears them out quickly. A Guru teaching in a metropolis is not unlike a soldier on a battlefield, subject to battle fatigue. Most Gurus of old had more peaceful times. That God sends Gurus eternally is his greatest blessing to man, and all Gurus should be valued for the love and service they give and for the goodness they embody in the lives of their beloved chelas.
Certainly one who seeks the Guru today must be selective and discriminating. You must be willing to search forever, search to the ends of the earth for the Master, as you concentrate mainly on developing yourself for the day that your Master — your great companion — will be attracted to the time and place where your initiation is received and your new life becomes established.
Different Kinds of Gurus
In your search for the Guru, keep in mind that often by the time a person becomes qualified to be a Guru, old age is approaching or firmly established. Many Gurus accept thirty, or fewer, initiates — sometimes only seven. Some Gurus, due to their early advancement, perform the initiating/awakening function for numerous decades. Some Gurus are qualified and able to transmit higher consciousness and God-realization, or self-realization, to thousands and thousands of people.
Different kinds of Gurus, depending on their nature and their development, specialize in specific ways of realizing the higher consciousness. Some Gurus transmit consciousness which serves all people of all paths. Certainly a blessing from any Guru will help you on your own path. However, some Gurus focus on enabling the aspirant to realize the soul, the higher self, God within. This is called self-realization, where self is not meant to be interpreted as ego but as the Lord who dwells within. Other Gurus focus on enabling the aspirant to enter into and realize profound and lofty relationships, or moods of love with God, as described in the Personal Relationships with Spirit section of this website. Others focus on enabling the aspirant to experience God as pure spirit — essence. They may also focus on enabling the devotee to realize the Absolute which is the one reality out of whose being everything exists and is sustained. In all these different ways, and with the aspirant’s help, Masters untie the knots and blockages which stand in the way of the aspirant’s realization.
Do You Have to Give Up the World When You Find Your Guru?
It’s common for both single people and married people to receive initiation and realize higher consciousness in the manner most suitable to their nature.
Just as a few people in society wish to enter a monastery or convent, it is possible that some Gurus — certainly not all — will agree that some exceptional candidates, who want to renounce worldly life and surrender themselves with their goods, enter a monastic or convent facility. Approval of such a decision is rare, however. Most initiates strive to be better people while actively pursuing their careers in the world. Through planned morning and nightly meditations they — like a priest or nun — can develop the capability of realizing and sustaining higher consciousness or finding their personal relationships with God.
In a society which mocks most everything, it is perhaps healthy that the Guru/Initiate relationship be mocked too. At a time when the young naively and hysterically follow and idolize so many different entertainers, it may be useful that the naively inclined think twice — or ten, fifty, or a hundred times — before seeking a Guru. There are false Gurus who do not abide in higher consciousness and who are not capable of transmitting it, nor of consolidating it within the devotee. And these men and women, too, are usually unscrupulous as well. You should be alert and not treat the matter frivolously or commit yourself for emotional reasons only.
A Sacred Relationship
Nevertheless, when both parties — the Guru and the Chela — are genuine, the Guru/Chela relationship is the most sacred and complete human relationship — short of the moods of higher consciousness. United in spirit first, their relationship is sustained through all the ups and downs of daily life. Having a deep respect and reverence for one another, and knowing their reverence is founded in God himself, they thrive. Their appreciation of one another always grows. It cannot recede when each is doing his, or her, part.
As the spirit of love and light becomes a steady blaze in your life as an aspirant, you will perceive who the Guru and the chela really are. You perceive the Guru as a spiritual being and yourself also as a spiritual being. When your ignorance and ego are overcome, and your enlightenment becomes steady, your Guru dances for joy. Your Guru’s work is a labor of love, a challenging and often fatiguing service. Above all, the Guru yearns that your awakening be established, and that the Guru/Chela relationship be matured into an eternal friendship of equals. In fact, the Guru, through love, wishes his every chela become superior to him in awareness, in wisdom, and in love.
Who Are Typical Seekers of the Guru?
The characteristics seekers today have in common with one another are the same age-old marks of the seeker. Their world, however pleasant or unpleasant, has proven deeply unsatisfying to them. Whether rich or poor, healthy or sick, man or woman, they yearn to experience something more, something finer from life than the outer world in all its glitter has been able to provide. They ache to find more meaning and purpose in their existences. They don’t want to play superficial games at the office or at home. They want to cut through the sham and emptiness of their lives—however successful they may be materially — and experience "X."
For some, "X" is God. Others have had a tragic or insipid experience with religion; they are hostile to religion and the idea of God. They often seek lasting fulfillment or self-esteem. Others seek to know their own soul in self-realization. Others seek pure Spirit, the "Absolute Reality," or ego-effacement in Nirvana. For some, "X" is transformation.
Most all true seekers are ready to change. They want to give more of themselves, to love more. Their personal pain or emptiness propels them to seek wherever possible, and as long as necessary, the satisfaction of the call of their hearts. Their world proving at best incomplete, they are driven toward a finer life — inwardly and outwardly.
Seekers of the Guru can’t be satisfied with small prizes or temporary pleasures. Attentive students of life itself, they seek to solve the mystery of their existence. They are determined to know, to experience, their true nature and express it — whatever that means. Highly motivated, they are energetic, magnetic people who live with their long-term goals constantly in mind.
So Few Genuinely Earnest Seekers
But another factor in the modern world makes matters challenging for both Gurus and bona fide seekers today. There are so few able and genuinely earnest seekers of higher consciousness. Many of those who seek Gurus merely have the desire to escape from the problems of life. They are also extremely reluctant to behold their own character flaws and mistakes from the past. They often prove defiant and unwilling to change their old tendencies into new ones.
Many seeking the Guru today have slept through high school. They have also burned up many precious brain cells through the use of drugs. These cells are particularly important to the awakening process. Many candidates’ nervous systems have been hurt badly. Often their memory is poor, their ability to think clearly, or reason, is gone. And social skills — the abilities to relate to others — are minimal or even aberrational. Often the candidate today has not been true to anything for more than a year, moving from one interest or fascination to another, leaving behind a trail of unused dreams.
While some heavy drug users, past and present, are doing exceptional humanitarian service or are millionaires running some very successful businesses, many former drug explorers have extreme difficulty in getting and maintaining a job. Often they forget important functions and endanger their employer or fellow workers so much that they are let go again and again. They then rationalize there is something wrong with society and they yearn to live in another world.
Seekers With Different Backgounds
People with this complex background comprise about forty percent of the people on the path to higher consciousness — a very substantial number. They have good hearts and are in many ways wonderful people. The state of many is a tragedy — perhaps a major tragedy of our time, ranking in scope with the losses of lives in World War II and other wars of the twentieth century.
Still, the few available Gurus will convey initiations to those who demonstrate persistent yearning and a willingness to do what the Guru recommends or even directs them to do. Many people alive today are considered high souls even if they have done considerable damage to their lives and nervous systems. Many have a predisposition to higher consciousness which makes them strongly motivated seekers.
Another group of aspirants. which comprises about forty to fifty percent of those who seek Gurus today, are "straight people." These people have developed socially, mentally, and emotionally. They can be any age. Somehow they have bypassed the rampage of self-destruction. They are capable of holding down a high-level job. They are more alert about others and actively strive to relate to reality as a way of life.
With Right Tendencies and Aspirations
Development under the instructions and with the blessings of a Guru inevitably reveals each devotee has some advantages over other seekers, and also some disadvantages. Often, former drug takers feel superior to those who have not chemically opened their minds. At the same time, the other devotees feel superior to these drug-burned men and women who "can’t possibly" find higher consciousness. The whole matter is essentially quite simple. With the right tendencies and aspirations bodies and minds can often heal to a considerable degree; and nothing on earth, or in your mind, can keep you from your Guru and your fulfillment.
The Guru considers each applicant with love. One day he is shocked to see
how many initiates he has as they sit together on the beach. "Oh, Lord,
what have we done?" he says in gratitude and he smiles.