Enlightenment and the Guru.

"I have heard the saying, 'When the student is ready the master (or teacher) appears'. Charles you touched on the guru relationship before - can we discuss the subject more in depth? I am confused as to how to proceed in my spiritual quest."

The speaker Alex, we will refer as A.K., was of South Indian descent by nationality and a retired Engineer by vocation.

C.G. "Yes of course what is the basis of your confusion?"

A.K. "I grew up in Bangalore. My parents both had their own guru. My mother was devoted to Rama Maharshi and my father followed the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna. They had their pictures all over the house as well as on our small altar. They burnt incense and placed flowers daily next to these pictures."

C.G. "Rama Maharshi and Sri Ramakrishna are two of India's greatest Saints. I too have shed tears of devotion when I gaze at their pictures."

A.K. "Well that's interesting in itself. I thought you would have dropped such emotions and practices."

C.G. "Mmmm. Perhaps we should go into this a little further. Why do you consider it strange that a realized person should shed bhakti (devotional) tears of love when contemplating the great saints and masters?"

A.K. "You say that all exterior projections are mere reflections of the inner sad-guru - the inner teacher of self - why would a picture still stir bhakti tears within you? It seems a contradiction or at least a paradox."

C.G. "The famed Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung described Rama Maharshi and Sri Ramakrishna as "genuine" and "the whitest spots in a white space". Yet even these enlightened saints shed bhakti tears of devotion."

A.K. "That is indeed true. Yet it still seems a contradiction to me."

C.G. "I am glad you used the term 'to me' as it acknowledges that the conflict, the paradox, the contradiction, is within you and not in me."

A.K. "I can accept that, but accepting does not dispel the many contradictions that I observe and the subsequent doubts that arise. At one level I would love to find a guru where I could just absolutely surrender - take the leap as it were - do everything the guru asks of me without question - then accept the promise of enlightenment to flow as a natural course of events. But that's too easy - for me that would be a cop out."

C.G. "Mmmm, the ego-mind prompts you to "surrender to the Guru" for the promise of a future benefit. Inevitably, when the benefit isn't forthcoming the same ego-mind can then blame the guru and accept the role as the hard done by victim. This is just an ill-considered commercial transaction doomed to failure rather than "true surrender" is it not?"

A.K. "Absolutely! So what is the use of having a guru and how do I overcome all these contradictions within me?"

C.G. "Before enlightenment - chopping wood carrying water. After enlightenment - chopping wood carrying water."

A.K. "I don't follow. Could you repeat that Charles?"

C.G. "It's an old Zen saying. 'Before enlightenment - chopping wood carrying water. After enlightenment - chopping wood carrying water.' You see perhaps the first point to understand is that a realized "guru" knows "the self or the atma". His or her "soul" task is to lead you to also realize the self. In that sense they are the bridge - once you are across - the bridge becomes obsolete."

A.K. "I follow that but where's the connection to the Zen saying that you quoted?"

C.G. "You seem to have a restricted predetermined notion as to what a guru is or should be. Once realization is attained - the self is known- one sees the mind and the phenomenal world for what it is - but one still chops the wood and carries the water. Perceived from without little else changes."

A.K. "I suppose I expect in a guru a high level of wisdom, of truth, of love and a living example as to the benefits of his or her teachings.

C.G. "That is perhaps admirable but not always the case. It is like the ego-mind predetermining the notion of God and then deciding whether to believe in this preconceived notion or not. The contradictions arise between the expectations of "perfection" in a guru and the reality. The devotee is often shocked to see their guru for example, show anger or curse, fall asleep at the wrong time, eat to excess, drink wine, or dare I say it - the need to have a bowel movement! That is, if the guru doesn't display 100% love, 100% of the time and epitomize perfection, the devotee's insecurities often will turn to disillusionment."

A.K. "I relate to that - the notion of a cursing angry guru does not appeal to me at all. I too see a contradiction there."

C.G. "Of course you do. If you can see a contradiction in me shedding devotional tears over a picture obviously you will have a reality check when you meet "your guru upon the road."

A.K. "So you are saying I shouldn't seek perfection - even in a realized saint?"

C.G. "Especially in a realized saint!"

A.K. "Charles - I'm getting more confused....."

C.G. "No confusion is necessary. If you take your car to a burly, tattooed, unshaven mechanic to have the brakes repaired and the mechanic fixes them quickly and at a reasonable price, why would you see a contradiction in the fact that you find out he also loves going to the ballet?"

A.K. "With respect, I am not sure if that is the same principle."

C.G. "Tell me Alex, what is the level of your spirituality right at this moment?"

A.K. (After a long considered pause) "I cannot say - I don't know."

C.G. "Then how do you expect to judge another's level of spirituality? It is impossible, is it not? As I stated, the guru's task is to lead you to realize the self. The guru is the bridge - once you are across - the bridge becomes obsolete. Like the example with the mechanic, once the brakes are repaired you proceed upon your journey. Does it make any logical difference that the mechanic has tattoos and likes the ballet?"

A.K. "I guess not. So to stereotype or prejudge a guru is ignorance of the true process of the guru-student relationship."

C.G. "It is also ignorance as to the nature of spirituality. I can assure you that if you do stereotype, you will not only be left despondent, but perhaps miss the opportunity to make the quantum leap. The guru is the teacher whose job it is to teach you a particular lesson. The guru may appear in the form of a son or daughter, or a blind beggar in rags or a king or any other form your ego-mind may require so as to be shattered or dissolved. The guru should be directly related to the lesson you require.

Allow me to illustrate. There once was a wealthy man who stopped at an Indian village prior to proceeding to the ashram to visit Shirdi Sai Baba. A poor and smelly beggar approached the wealthy man and asked for a few rupees. The wealthy man chose to shun the beggar, pushing him to one side as he walked past.

A couple of days later he was lucky enough to sit at the feet of the old guru Shirdi Sai. He asked Shirdi whether or not he would honor him and his family by allowing him to make a sizable donation in US Dollars to the ashram's building fund. The old guru politely turned down the offer and changed the subject. The wealthy man's ego was shattered. So shattered in fact he burst into tears.

For the wealthy man at the ashram, the following days were tortuous. He left totally despondent. Arriving back at the local village the same beggar approached him and again asked for a few rupees. Once again the wealthy man refused. The old beggar began to laugh hysterically.

"You fool!" exclaimed the wealthy man. "I refuse you and you laugh?" The beggar's face changed to pure compassion. When I was in the form of Shirdi Sai you offered me a king's ransom yet when I am in the form of a beggar you have refused me twice. Tell me now who is the fool?" Even before the wealthy man could take in what he had just heard the beggar vanished into the crowd.

So Alex, can you see the folly in thinking that the Guru should be perfection personified?"

A.K. "That's a good story but is it relevant for today?"

C.G. "It is totally relevant and I use the word 'totally' without exaggeration. Each and every day the beggar or guru is shunned in some form. The lesson is there and ignored. "

A.K. "There are so many charlatans out there, how does one choose a guru without prejudging?"

C.G. "By using discrimination and 'testing the fruit'. The false gurus are easy to spot. They are invariably into control and into creating impressions. Their power is derived from the doting devotees and not from their own sadhana. To the false gurus, surrender means to surrender to the guru and/or their doctrines rather than surrender to your true self. They will encourage you to become dependent rather than independent. They will lead you to the security of the cult group mentality rather than leading you to yourself and freedom. False gurus will allow you to place them up onto pedestals - thus by definition lowering your own self esteem. Rather than expansion and totality, they will also leave you with a feeling of stifled contraction and the gradual feeling of becoming a lesser person. Also a false guru will often display occult or siddhis powers to impress and control the gullible."

A.K. 'When the student is ready the guru appears' - "Perhaps I am not ready. What would you do Charles if you were me?"

C.G. "Ah but you see to me we are one - two waves on the same ocean. The whole phenomenal world is the exterior guru reflecting the inner guru. When this is understood at a profound level, life itself is the teacher. One does not need to break it down to this is a guru and this is not. God knowledge and self knowledge are the same. The atma is within, without, above and below. Your contradictions are bound to remain until the self is realized.

Please imagine an infinite spiral. This spiral ever widens as it ascends into affinity. At each level on the spiral are spiritual aspirants on the various planes of being from the lowly physical planes to the highest astral planes. Each is in delusion and caught up in the quagmire of their own dream creation. I have visited many of these levels often and I can assure you the reality there is more profound that the physical world. Realization and freedom is when one can be the observer of this whole wondrous play and yet at the same time be part of the play. The paradoxes and contradictions arise when you proceed from one level of the spiral to the next. What is reality on one level is understood as an illusion or dream on the next and so on.

Accept that life is a wondrous loving paradox and a play of ultimate creation.

A.K. "Charles, perhaps the guru can also have the form of an eccentric millionaire?"

C.G. " Mmmm - perhaps even that may be possible."

Kind hearts are the gardens,
Kind prayers are the roots,
Kind words are the flowers,
Kind deeds are the fruits
--Kirpal Singh


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