Sunday, October 14, 2012
We are always told that when the student is ready, the guru appears. The importance of the guru has been extolled in our Scriptures since time immemorial, but do we not wonder as to where does he come from and how does he appear? We may also wonder as to how he helps one evolve spiritually. Here the discussion is about a true guru, one who has achieved God realization, and is, therefore, fit to guide his student to Self Realization. To the best of my knowledge, all realized souls, sages, enlightened beings had to have a guru for their spiritual evolution. Even in the case of Jesus Christ…his guru was John the Baptist (they had a similar relationship in an earlier life as well, as Elijah and Elisha). A somewhat similar relationship existed between Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Vivekananda. A guru/disciple relationship does not end in one life but may carry on through repeated births till a complete liberation of the disciple is reached. Arjun too, was a great sage in his previous life and when Krishna incarnated, Arjun did too as his companion (actually as Lord Krishna’s cousin) “Genesis” of a true guru: A true Guru is one who has lived as the atman of the disciple or student, and therefore, knows the student through repeated births. To quote Dr Rick Levy(personal communication) “When the God made you as Atman, the first being of you was the Guru which then branched out into becoming you like the pod of the flower opens into becoming so many individual petals. When you come back you encounter your particular Guru who became you first before you became you. Hence, the one and only guru for each of us….the illumined soul can see these things and whom is meant for whom.” This explains how the Guru appears when the student is “ready”. There are some very interesting situations as to how this happens. A gentleman by the name of Mr Dickinson, while being pushed into a pond, when he was small and playing with his friends, was about to drown when he had a vision of a man “with tranquil eyes and a reassuring smile” and was saved. A few years later, he saw the same man he had seen in vision…he turned out be Swami Vivekananda, (when Swamiji had gone to America). On meeting him he was told “I am not your guru”…”your teacher will come later. He will give you a silver cup”. Many years later, Paramhans Yogananda presented Mr Dickinson with a silver cup as he was Mr Dickinson’s guru! There are many such examples. Very often, one sees a vision of the Guru while sleeping….which is one of the ways the guru beckons you……symbolically asking you to wake up from your “sleep”! Most often, a number of ‘chance” meetings occur with various people, or ‘chance’ situations arise or one reads or hears something which takes one a step further, then another, followed by another similar situation till one finally meets the guru. Who knows, we may be acting as catalysts for others! The guru may make subtle contact with us …and we may not even realize it……as happened in my case…when he came to see me…I did not have the foggiest idea why he had come into my life! It took me about three years before i met him again…..Yes, i am fortunate that i have the blessings of a true guru who came from out of the blue… and changed my life completely. When God sees someone who seeks Him, He causes “chance” contact with, perhaps, a good book or a spiritual teacher. If the seeker is not satisfied with the meager information he gets from books etc, and his eagerness to find Him is really deep, God sends him someone who knows God and is empowered to lead the seeker to enlightenment. Gurus ordained by God can feel the spiritual vibrations of their disciples and can call them mentally….this mental call is heeded and the disciple comes in contact with the guru. This is the reason why when great masters incarnate, they bring with them select disciples from earlier incarnations…..who later congregate. What happens after we have met our Guru? Once contact has been established, the guru “initiates’ the student…..This initiation is also called “diksha’ but is the same as ‘baptism” in the West or ‘Naam daan” in some other parts of India. True initiation is baptism by Spirit which is threefold. First, the guru sees the Divine light himself, which is then sent into the initiate…which may not be obvious to the devotee. This light remains with the initiate for a little while with its full vibratory power in order to affect a change in him. The student, or devotee, has to make the effort to retain it. To make the Light his own, the student has to diligently and conscientiously meditate and follow his Guru’s guidance to progress in his sadhana. The path to Him becomes easier now but constant guidance from the Guru needs to continue…..if the student is on the right track he/she may not understand the significance of the beautiful sounds/music/visions which may be heard/ seen, if fortunate. The implications of these and certain other occurrences may not be very clear unless and until the student is guided properly. It is said that spiritual progress requires 25% of the disciple’s own efforts, 25% through the blessings of the Guru and the remaining 50% is the grace of God (Sri Paramhans Yoganand). It is, therefore, clear that both the devotee’s efforts as well as the Guru’s blessings are equally necessary. In the case of a disciple (a disciple is one who accepts the master completely, unlike the student, who may follow the master superficially depending upon his inclination), the very first contact with the guru awakens memories of their everlasting bonding. This feeling of oneness is through an exchange of magnetic vibrations between the two and, as mentioned above, Gurus ordained by God can feel the spiritual vibrations of their disciples. How does a guru become a Guru? There are two ways by which this happens. First, and the more important one, is when the guru is ordained to serve and save others by a real guru. This is what happens most commonly, as in the case of Jesus Christ…..he was baptized by Spirit by John the Baptist. When the Divine Light passes through the initiate, “it cauterizes present bad habits and past karmic seeds lodged in the brain” (Yoganand Paramhans). This is why it is said that if the realized Guru bestows the student by ‘Naam Daan’, the student’s past karmas are washed off…he has a clean slate so to speak. If he or she follows the path as ordained by his/her Guru and acts according to his free will, merger with the Almighty can become a reality. The Guru, and also a Realized soul have the power to take over the karmas of their students or others. Secondly, one must hear the voice of God asking him to redeem others. Jesus, too, heard that voice inside him but just to set an example he sought baptism by John. Unfortunately, Most self appointed gurus often mistake God’s voice to the voice of their imaginative ego in their subconscious mind! How does the Guru take the student forward? Once the student has been initiated, the guru teaches him his method of meditation, which basically consists of trying to visualize the guru’s “swaroop” at the site of the “third eye”(deep to and in the centre of the forehead)…along with mental chanting of a mantra given by the guru……..the disciple/student needs to concentrate on his guru’s ‘swaroop” and just follow him up wherever he may lead. It is important for the initiate to surrender to his guru and have faith in him…he must not lose confidence in him. A true guru leads by example and not by mere rhetoric….he does not encourage “blind’ following but encourages questions from his student as well as discussions. Sycophancy is certainly not what a true guru encourages. This way the initiate gradually progresses on the path. Every word the true guru utters is full of wisdom…..very often the meanings may not really sink in but as the student advances, more and more teachings and words start making sense. Sometimes it so happens that what the guru says, may be completely at variance to what one believes or ‘thinks’ one knows. This is because the guru speaks the truth, based on his intuition which is the “voice of the Spirit”….we know that spirit is part of God…who is perfect therefore intuitive wisdom is always superior to what one’s intellect tells us. It is, therefore, imperative, that the student’s “cup” be empty…..whatever so called “knowledge” he has, has no real meaning…. the guru tries to inculcate wisdom as opposed to mere knowledge, which is essentially just “information’ and has no practical significance on the spiritual path. Since a lot of the things which happen would be so new and very different from what the student would have imagined, he may get confused, the guru, therefore, guides him at every step by clarifying the doubts in the initiate’s mind. It is, indeed, a fact that guidance is required at every step! In advanced stages the “sadhak” may see visions and often the guru’s image merging with his, proving that his guru and he are one! A true guru has only one aim…that of taking the student/disciple onwards toward union with God…this is his purpose in life. He acts as a bridge since he actually has one part of him in God communion and the other firmly planted on earth! He should not be confused with so called self proclaimed “gurus” who have other intentions. One of the surest signs of a true guru is that he can awaken the “aum’ shabd in the devotee (also known as ‘Anhad shabd”, “Amen”, ‘Holy ghost”, Ameen’ etc) which a ”guru’ who himself is not evolved enough, will not be able to. It is this “inner music’ perpetually flowing through the ether, contact with which is responsible for spiritual evolution. We should beware of those “gurus” who preach from the scriptures but not practice what they preach! Apart from having a magnetic personality (which leave any one coming in contact with him full of positivity), a God realized guru is always “giving” but never asking anything from the student except devotion to God. What the guru “gives’ is often not comprehended, since it is not material but in the form of blessings, grace…and divine cosmic light which the guru imbibes from Him and transfers on to the student. An advanced devotee can often feel or “see” this transfer. Realized Masters like Christ, Ramkrishna, Pramahans Yogananda, Vivekananda, Guru Nanak, Sant Kabeer,and many other Prophets are even today sending forth their spiritual vibrations to humanity in the form of this Divine Light but very few can appreciate it. It is not necessary that the sadhak has to be in his guru’s company to receive this…..he could be in any part of the world but spiritually connected to him. It is even possible the guru may not even have a physical form….he may have discarded his physical body earlier but guides, nevertheless, through intuition and vibrations! One may wonder as to whether such Realized gurus exist in this day and age? They most certainly do…..but since they do not believe in promoting themselves they are overshadowed by lesser, self proclaimed ones who believe in the number of followers they have. It is important to realize that the path to God realization is travelled alone….”Ekla Chalo re…” and not in multitudes! It is a path travelled with the guru as a beloved leader, friend or ‘Sakha”, whose love knows no bounds for a true disciple! This is the reason why a Realized guru is very choosy about those he initiates…everyone who comes to him may not be blessed by his diksha….he first ensures that the person deserves the initiation. This is also because there is just one true guru for a sadhak….everyone may not be accepted by the same guru since, as mentioned earlier one’s specific guru has had a connection with one in the past…and the true guru knows with whom he has had an earlier connection. In the end I would like to point out that often many initiates who have been blessed by their guru by diksha, become complacent due to the mistaken belief that they have their Guru’s blessings and, which they feel is enough of an achievement….do not work towards their evolution and go back to their previous bad habits! So often, many seek ‘Naam Daan” in order to show others that they are on the path! This is strongly discouraged…spirituality is not about showing off or falling prey to “spiritual ego”….it is the path to inner realization and union with God where physical ego, pride, “one upmanship“, “superior-inferior’ feelings have no meaning…in His eyes all are equal, bound by an invisible cord of Divine Love! Let us pray to Him to send us a true guru who guides us to the place where we may bask in the warmth of Divine Love….peace….happiness and bliss. Let us also remember that just like Jesus Christ said “I and my Father are one’ …..i and my guru are one too! Source: “The Second Coming of Christ” by Paramhans Yogananda in addition to my own perception.
Sunday, October 7, 2012
My Guruji once told us a very nice story: There was a man who had a fairly large family and all of them lived in a very small room. He went to a sage who asked him what was making him so unhappy. The man told him that they had just a small room in which his entire family slept and he was finding it difficult to find peace as sleep was never forthcoming….what should he do? The sage smiled and said that his problem would be solved if he would, henceforth, keep his camel also inside the room where slept with the family. The poor man wondered as to how this could help but thought since the sage was an enlightened one, perhaps there was something to it…..he, therefore tied the camel inside his room and tried to sleep, but the night was miserable, since whenever the camel shook or turned its neck, the bell (placed around its neck) would jingle and make it impossible for them to sleep. The following morning he went to the wise one again , who seemed very amused by his predicament and asked him to keep his dog, in addition to the camel, inside when he went to sleep. The poor man was shocked but did not question the wise one and did as he was told. Needless to say, the whole night the entire family kept tossing and turning…what with the dog barking at the camel and the bell around the camel’s neck adding to the din. No one could sleep a wink and the next morning, the man went to the sage again and told him his story. The wise man laughed and told him reassuringly, ‘don’t worry, your problem will be solved” and asked him to simply remove both the camel as well as the dog from the room, to tie them outside and to sleep without them. That night the poor man had a very peaceful sleep and looked ever so happy when he met the sage next morning and thanked him profusely for having solved his problem Most of the times we are unhappy because of our perceptions…can we not try to find a better way of looking at things? Every situation presents us with two sets of perspectives…..one which is its negative aspect (which makes us unhappy if we dwell on it) while the other one can make us forget our predicament if we so desire. To give you an example…we set out to do something but fail in our endeavour. We can look at it from two viewpoints…one that we failed and the other that we have learned something from the incident and are better informed and better prepared for the next time. It is very wisely said “Failure is the stepping stone to success”. We know how many times Thomas Edison had failed before he finally succeeded. Every failure gives us a tremendous learning experience. Our thoughts play a very important role in keeping us happy. It is said that negative thoughts and feelings attract stressful events and troublesome people while positive thoughts and feelings, as well as harmonius ones attract joy, happiness, love and success. The “half full glass” is also a case in point. Like energy attracts like. We also know that matter is made of energy and energy follows thought. It is this energy which makes us do things ….which we do according to what we think. Our thoughts are very powerful indeed as they decide our karma. Our perception of a so called “problem” is important. Stress affects us depending as how we “see” the particular situation… stress itself is not harmful, as it has been created by God to help us progress in life. “Your stress level is determined by what you think (your beliefs and expectations), not by the stressor itself…. (Dr Rick Levy….The Happiness Sutra). Hans Selye was the first researcher to prove this. If a so called problem is perceived as a challenge, it is productive as it helps in one’s progress but if it is not seen as such, it becomes distressful, and , therefore, a source of unhappiness, harm and ultimate dis-ease culminating in an illness. The story as mentioned above brings out another important thing…..it proves that the sage was, indeed, very wise….but what had made him so? He was enlightened so could “see” things which the ordinary unenlightened one could not. An enlightened being is “happy without a reason”, to quote the Dalai Lama. As one ascends on one’s spiritual journey, one gradually becomes happier and happier as one becomes wiser and wiser and more in tune with everything around. At the same time one sees everything in its proper perspective and one’s perception about things also changes. A truly enlightened being, merged in Spirit is completely enveloped in Divine Love and is in complete bliss…in fact he becomes bliss, the ultimate stage of happiness. Is it not, therefore, important to change our perception about things from negative to positive by practicing spirituality, and gain happiness in the process?